China economy picks up speed in 4th quarter

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China economy

China’s economy picked up speed in the fourth quarter, with growth beating expectations as it ended a rough coronavirus-stricken 2020 in remarkably good shape and remained poised to expand further this year even as the global pandemic rages unabated.

Gross domestic product grew 2.3% in 2020, official data showed on Monday, making China the only major economy in the world to avoid a contraction last year as many nations struggled to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. And China is expected to continue to power ahead of its peers this year, with GDP set to expand at the fastest pace in a decade at 8.4%, according to a Reuters poll.

The world’s second-largest economy has surprised many with the speed of its recovery from the coronavirus jolt, especially as policymakers have also had to navigate tense U.S.-China relations on trade and other fronts.

Beijing’s strict virus curbs enabled it to largely contain the COVID-19 outbreak much quicker than most countries, while government-led policy stimulus and local manufacturers stepping up production to supply goods to many countries crippled by the pandemic have also helped fire up momentum.

GDP expanded 6.5% year-on-year in the fourth quarter, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed, quicker than the 6.1% forecast by economists in a Reuters poll, and followed the third quarter’s solid 4.9% growth.

“The higher-than-expected GDP number indicates that growth has stepped into the expansionary zone, although some sectors remain in recovery,” said Xing Zhaopeng, economist at ANZ in Shanghai.

“Policy exiting will pose counter-cyclical pressures on 2021 growth.”

Backed by the strict virus containment measures and policy stimulus, the economy has recovered steadily from a steep 6.8% slump in the first three months of 2020, when an outbreak of COVID-19 in the central city of Wuhan turned into a full-blown epidemic.

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